The HardWired News staff is back from a two-week vacation in Ireland just in time for the NFL “taking a knee” histrionics.
To set the record, we have no problem with First Amendment free speech, as long as it is legal and does not physically harm others (it doesn’t mean we agree with all protesters). Riots such as seen in Missouri or Baltimore or North Carolina (to name a few) involving beatings, firebombing, looting, other personal property destruction and the like are another thing altogether. Assaults on police or other public officials are sickening. There is no constitutional right to harm others to make a point.
But like it or loathe it, disrespect for symbols has a long tradition in America. Remember flag burning during the Vietnam era? How about flying the flag upside down, defacing historic statues or monuments, or simple graffiti on public buildings? Or burning your draft card. You can name others. We at HardWired News have no training in psychology or sociology. But we have plenty of good old-fashioned experience with people and situations. And it seems to us the knee-takers are trying to do something so offensive to the public that their message is noticed, whether the action makes sense or not. After all, if they were distributing handbills, marching around with signs or posting on Facebook, there wouldn’t be much if any national media hysteria. This way their message is heard. Still, and ironically, this type of offensive behavior, while attracting attention, undermines public support for their cause.
Don’t get us wrong. We are deeply offended by the affront to America, her flag and anthem. And protesting police behavior, which is controlled by states and communities—not the federal government, by denigrating our nation is preposterous. The knee-takers are, in our view, disloyal and their animosity toward our country misplaced. But their protests are still peaceable and legal.
The concerns of black people in general with the issue of disproportionate severe enforcement by police is understandable. We doubt that there is any generalized behavior by police as an institution that is hostile to African-Americans, although individual malfeasance is always a possibility. But if it is your son or cousin or nephew, father or brother, or you that is roughed up or worse, it naturally assumes gigantic proportions. Doubtless many if not most African-Americans know someone personally who has had these experiences with police, justified or otherwise. And the legacy of slavery, segregation and blatant discrimination that is part of their history must be difficult to shrug off. Clearly, there is a problem in the black community itself that makes that population statistically more likely to be convicted of serious crimes, drop out of school, or have children out of wedlock, all things that can lead to misery. And in our view, the long-term solutions need to come in large part from changes within that community. Nonetheless, we can understand their concerns about the treatment of blacks at the hands of police, even if we don’t always agree with their conclusions as to the causes and remedies.
In short, taking a knee appears to us as a legal if offensive way to protest. In our view, it should simply be ignored as rude and inappropriate. Elevating the behavior in the media as tantamount to a national crisis (not to mention blaming it on Trump) is silly and unnecessary, and our outrage at the disrespect shown our flag and country plays right into the hands of the protesters’ need for a platform. For those of us who are offended, the best thing would be to ignore it. And if you’re like me, move on to patronizing something other than professional football, at least until this stuff blows over (which it surely will, as all the theatrics before have done).